Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sylvania Wilderness 2017 Part 2

Loons swam with their chicks calling loud warnings as eagles swooped down from warm, sunny skies. They called mournful calls as night fell wrapping the lake in a blanket of cool darkness. Bullfrogs croaked. Thousands of tadpoles in various stages of development filled the shallow waters along the lake shore. Turtles sunbathed on logs. Wildflowers waved in the breeze. Fungi and moss thrived on fallen trees. Cool green ferns lined serene footpaths. Reflections of clouds on the lake mirrored the tranquil sky. The Sylvania Wilderness gave our family all of this plus so much more.

Our July 2017 canoe camping trip offered the opportunity to warm up idle muscles as we paddled and portaged an easy route ahead of our Boundary Waters (BWCA) trip to Northern Minnesota. We drove to Upper Michigan and arrived at the Sylvania Wilderness near Watersmeet around lunch time, and had a packed picnic of sandwiches at the canoe launch. We put in on Crooked Lake, paddled about 3 miles, and camped on Fox 2 Campsite two nights before moving to High Lake to Camp on Raccoon Campsite.

Video of our family's July 2017 Sylvania Wilderness Trip

To move to High Lake we portaged from Crooked Lake to Mountain Lake. Next, we paddled and portaged from Mountain Lake to East Bear Lake, East Bear Lake to West Bear Lake, West Bear Lake to Kerr Lake, and Kerr Lake to High Lake. On the trip out we took the short portage from High Lake to Crooked Lake and had a relatively short paddle out.

Crooked to Mountain Lake - 13 Rods          
Mountain Lake to East Bear Lake - 96 Rods
East Bear Lake to West Bear Lake - 40 Rods
West Bear Lake to Kerr Lake - 97 Rods
Kerr Lake to High Lake - 38 Rods
High Lake to Crooked Lake - 22 Rods
*Note: 1 rod = 16.5 feet (5 meters)

Map of our family's July 2017 canoe trip to the Sylvania Wilderness

The wide portages in the Sylvania Wilderness are well maintained, and not as rocky or hilly as the portages in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). They also tend to be relatively short. This trip provided a nice warm up. We tested our gear. Most importantly, we enjoyed summer family fun over four glorious summer days canoe camping.

What a thrill to watch this big guy sunning himself.


Enjoying Daddy's hammock.

Fox 2 Campsite.

Beautiful mushrooms.

A beautiful day for a paddle.

Tranquility at its finest.


Peaceful view of Crooked Lake.

At the boat launch.

Iris on the water.

That's all for now. Let's get outdoors and keep our wild places wild!

Happy paddlers on the portage trail.


  1. Hi Ms Mamma - I am planning a trip to the Sylvania wilderness in July. My brother and our friends went here 5 years in a row starting in 1977.
    I live in Los Angeles now and have been telling my girlfriend about the stars up there, so we are visiting my family in Chicago and making a quick two night trip.

    Question: I was wondering how long did it take you to canoe and portage through all of the lakes.

    1. LA Hiker, Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful, wonderful trip! I didn't time it, everyone paddles at a different pace. It's approximately 6 hrs for our family to paddle the circle and let our daughter stop for snacks and chase an occasional frog. We aren't the fastest. One year we paddled the circle w/out our gear and it was faster than 6 hrs. All the lakes are pretty small except Crooked, I think it took us maybe 2 hours onto paddle the length of Crooked because it was windy. The water on Crooked was disappointingly dirty last summer if you're a swimmer, just fyi. But we did see alot of wildlife on Crooked. All the portages are easy compared to the BWCA and there are no monster portages. Hope your girlfriend loves it!

  2. I really enjoy your video's as well thank you for posting. Appreciate the information we may try doing all of the lakes but at 62 we may just do a little paddling and then some hiking. We have reservations at Pine #1 on crooked lake but may try to get one of the walk on sites at High Lake as that was our favorite lake back in the late 70's. I am really looking forward to stargazing as I have never seen stars that bright and that includes the darkest area's of Utah. Thanks again Base Camper